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The Netherlands Liberated in 1944/1945

Next Crown Year 2019/2020


Remembrance action Market Garden

“Airborne” memorials Arnhem and surroundings.

In the period around September 20, 1944 there was a particularly fierce fighting in the Battle of Arnhem between the Allied forces and the German Army in operation “Market Garden”. There were many Allied casualties who are buried at the military cemeteries for instance at Oosterbeek, where more than 1750 soldiers have received their final resting place. Also in other places in and around Arnhem. Every year there are memorials around September 20, culminating in the dropping of hundreds of paratroopers, as was done in 1944. These were Canadians, but also British, Australians, soldiers from New Zealand and Poland; soldiers of all nations who fought for the liberation of the Netherlands.

The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 005 received invitations and requests to be present this year at various commemorations. There is chosen for:

September 20 : Remembrance Airborneplein Arnhem; This is a commemoration of an international character, in which the Allies are remembered who died in their attempts to conquer and defend the bridge over the Rhine ( the John Frost bridge ) during the period 17 – September 26, 1944.

September 21 : Engineers Memorial Monument Driel ; This is a wreath laying at the Engineers monument at the Drielse Rijndijk. Here soldiers are commemorated including Canadian, involved in the withdrawal of the Allied troops and crossing over the Rhine.

September 22 : Remembrance Ceremony on the Airborne cemetery in Oosterbeek, where amongst the Allies who were killed, also 33 Canadians were buried. RCL Branch 005 has laid a wreath.

A short impression of these three commemorations is described below and pictures of them can be found in the photo archives of RCL005.(Click)

Airborneplein Arnhem

Operation Market Garden of September 1944, involved 35,000 troops dropped up to 100 miles (160 km) behind German lines in an attempt to capture a series of bridges over the Maas, Waal and Rhine Rivers, in an attempt to outflank German fortifications and penetrate into Germany. The operation was hastily planned and many key planning tasks were inadequately completed. Three complete airborne divisions executed Operation Market, the airborne phase. These were the British 1st Airborne Division, the US 82nd Airborne Division and 101st Airborne Division, as well as the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade. All units were landed or dropped at various points along Highway 69 (“Hell’s Highway”) in order to create a “carpet” over which the British XXX Corps could rapidly advance in Operation Garden, the land phase. It was a daylight assault, with little initial opposition, and most units achieved high accuracy on drop and landing zones. In the end, after strong German counterattacks, the overall plan failed: the British 1st Airborne Division was all but destroyed at Arnhem, and the final Rhine bridge remained in German hands. (Wikipedia)”        

“The Airborne Square is a square in Arnhem that was constructed after World War II. On September 17, 1945 the first commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem took place, and a memorial was unveiled by the Queen’s Commissioner, Mr. Schelto baron van Heemstra. During the annual commemoration at the monument on the Airborneplein, with an international character, all allies are commemorated, who died in their attempts to conquer the bridge over the Rhine ( the John Frost bridge ) and hold it during the period 17 – 26september 1944.

This memorial is a damaged pillar of the former Palace of Justice. In gilt letters a date is engraved: September 17, 1944 .

The square is lower than the surrounding roads which were later built, and is therefore also called the Bear Pit. There is a roundabout for ( motor) cyclists on the old low level, at a higher level now are busy roads . Around the cyclists roundabout is a roundabout road. The square is surrounded by a brick wall which various monuments are placed ( Wikipedia ).”

This is what Wikipedia says about “Operation Market Garden – The Battle of Arnhem” and the “Airborneplein” in Arnhem. There are of course lots of stories and many memories. Let us forever commemorate. The younger generation at least every year does its best to keep this memory by a flower ceremony to those who fought for our freedom. See also the RCL photo album.(Click)

Engineers Monument on Drielse Rijndijk.

The monument to the Drielse Rijndijk is fairly recent ( 1989/90 ) and has its special background. By the fierce fighting in the period of the second half of September 1944 in the area of ​​Arnhem soldiers had to be evacuated from the front line during the night of 25 on 26 September. The Royal Engineers and the Royal Canadian Engineers worked throughout the night to transfer the heroic soldiers to the other side of the Rhine. This happened at Driel. It was expected to save only 200 men but by great effort the engineers corps made ​​it up to around 3500. Soldiers also tried to swim to the other side and therefore there are unfortunately many Airborne soldiers buried in villages along the Rhine. To commemorate, this year many young people were present. It is noteworthy to mention that in this part of the country commemorations are passed on very well. An good example is shown below in the picture (boy with the text : “I am a child of freedom Thank you Mr. Veteran.”) . This is in a few words an impression of the character of the meeting at the Drielse Rijndijk in 2013. Also look in the photo album of RCL (Click)

Airborne Cemetery in Oosterbeek

On the first Sunday after September 17 each year it is a special day, especially for the still last remaining veterans of the British and Polish Airborne divisions. Since the end of the second world war they continue to come each year to the military cemetery in Oosterbeek to remember that in this bitter and hard fighting in and around Arnhem their comrades were killed. The first memorial service was held on September 25, 1945 .

Each Airborne regiment is present and so are the Poles, who in this heroic battle had to collect many losses. Proud, because they were also allowed to add the Military Williams Order to their colours and finally receive the long-awaited recognition of Netherlands. Honoured and proud the Colour Party each year starts first followed by the veterans to form the guard of honor at the Cross of Sacrifice at the cemetery. Normally this is always a British / Polish event and other regiments were never allowed to participate in the past. For the Royal Canadian Legion it was a very special occasion because we were laying a wreath for the first time and could march with the guard of honour of this historic battle of Arnhem. Not only an honour but also a rewarding task for the soldiers of Canada, of which 32 rest here on this impressive cemetery .

Also present were the Ambassador of Canada , Mr. J. Lambert and the Military Attaché Mrs. Janine Knackstedt . Always a privilege for us to show that the Royal Canadian Legion is willing to be  present at many special commemorations to honour the Canadian military, no matter where they are buried. For pictures see album (Click)

(Text courtesy of Berry Swarthoff)